Moving beyond virtual limits

DQW Bureau
New Update


In the year 2007 bellwethers indicate a fast growth

in storage with faster growth in areas involved with data protection. Vendors

have been trying to battle it out to gain total supremacy for years. IT managers

realized long ago that its RoI on storage technologies is important, but vendors

have not. But, still vendors keep on inventing the storage wheel.

Virtualization Path

Nonetheless, many vendors frankly admit that storage is oversubscribed and

underutilized. More budget is spent on maintaining the old because it becomes

too disruptive to migrate. Also, multivendor storage keeps price competitive but

adds to management costs. Cost has become crucial and it should be better spent

on technologies that can give RoI.


Undoubtedly, it is cheaper to buy storage today rather than hire

people to manage it. Today, CIOs don't want to give up what they already have.

They want additional capabilities to be added to the existing technologies,

which is much cheaper than migrating to a completely new concept, which they are

not sure on RoI. Storage virtualization is one such concept.

The challenge in front of

most vendors is to deliver world-class enterprise service to their SMB

customers with limited resources

It isn't a new concept, but it's getting a lot of attention

lately as top storage vendors launch next-generation virtualization wares. The

vendors vary on their approaches; some put virtualization in the network, while

others put it at the edge or in the array. But, they all attack the same basic

problem-simplifying storage management. All leading vendors, with their

storage virtualization concepts have been able to convince IT managers that

there is more to tape and disc storage.


Virtualizing storage has different methods. These methods are

characterized by whether the virtualization is done on the host, the storage

array or the SAN.

There are vendors who offer controller-based virtualization with

their platforms. This technique puts virtualization in the storage controller,

either as a separate appliance or built into the array. Since controller-based

virtualization is intimately connected to the storage arrays, controller-based

products generally do an excellent job of working with the storage, especially

in the event of errors or write failures.

The major drawback to controller-based virtualization is vendor

lock-in. In fact, in most cases, customers are not just locked into a vendor,

they are locked into a particular product line since storage controllers only

work with one product line. Another disadvantage is that controllers, by nature,

have the narrowest view of the SAN-essentially, they only see the storage



The Gameplan

Most storage vendors are slowly changing their gears with their

virtualization offerings and have started focusing on SMB market as well. Now

even the smallest companies can enjoy the benefits of virtualization by

optimizing the performance of their most pressing business applications-such

as Microsoft Exchange or Oracle Financials-utilizing the logical partitioning

capabilities of the integrated new fleet of midrange offerings of most storage


The challenge in front of most vendors is to deliver world-class

enterprise service to their SMB customers with limited resources. Conventional

midrange storage leaves much of this market under-served. However, many have

addressed this issue with the cost-effective network storage controller,

delivering high-end function in a user-friendly form factor.


As organizations look to move beyond tape-currently the

predominant storage medium for long-term retention-utilizing disk storage

technology for backup and recovery operations has become an attractive method of

improving reliability, reducing backup windows, achieving greater data

throughput performance and ensuring rapid recovery. Until now, however, the

migration to current disk-based solutions has been causing disruption and costly

downtime in legacy IT systems. Now many vendors have virtual tape library

solutions that require no changes to existing backup policies, practices, or


Rahul Gupta